Whatever You Do, Don’t Click This Link

Ugh, come on, man. I thought for sure you wouldn’t click it. I’m a little disappointed, but that’s okay, because the day isn’t ruined or anything. And, I mean, since you’re here anyway, you might as well keep reading, right? In fact, this may turn out to be a valuable lesson.

You see, March 30 is National I Am In Control Day. Seriously. It’s a real thing. Check it out here. Legend has it the “holiday” was borne of tragedy narrowly averted. On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinckley, a deranged man who believed killing President Reagan would make Jodie Foster fall in love with him. It’s a whole thing. Anyhow, in the aftermath of the shooting, as the president was unconscious and in surgery, Secretary of State Alexander Haig told the media “I am in control here.”

Some media outlets took Secretary Haig’s statement to mean he didn’t know that the secretary of state is, in fact, fourth in line for the presidency behind the vice president, speaker of the house, and president pro tempore of the senate, respectively, assuming each person in that list is qualified to serve as president under the Constitution. And in fact he clearly didn’t know that the secretary of state is fourth, at least judging by the actual footage (below). However, Secretary Haig later clarified that he just meant he was in charge of the situation until Vice President George H.W. Bush could be sworn in.

What Does That Have To Do With Anything?

Fair question, because up to now this has been rambling. You’ll notice that the link at the top says, “Whatever You Do, Don’t Click This Link.” Since you’re here, I suppose that means you clicked it anyway. And why? That’s the real question. Were you curious? Did my cheap, dated marketing ploy combined with rudimentary reverse psychology really stump someone as sharp as you? Or did you feel slightly offended that someone would have the audacity to try and force you to not click something, so to exert control over your environment, you clicked the link?

I hope it was the second one. You see, despite the origins of National I Am In Control Day, Alexander Haig’s misguided slip of the tongue has nothing to do with what the holiday means today. Today, March 30, is for taking more control of your life, of your environment. Don’t like the way something is happening? Change it. Don’t like how your home or office is arranged? Change it. Don’t like that Marion from H.R. keeps calling you Kathleen even though your name is Catherine? Change it.

We have enough going on in our lives that is out of our control. We can’t control Covid-19, or the government’s response to it, or the citizens’ response to the government, or how many red lights you hit on the way to work, or how the imbecile in the ’93 Mercury Sable is clearly texting while driving 17 miles an hour in a 45 mile an hour zone. We can’t control what other people think or feel or do most of the time. We can’t control the weather. We can’t control what civic and civil leaders in this country or others do. You name it, we probably can’t control it.

But that’s all the more reason to take control of the things you can. I don’t mean become a dictator and exert undue influence on those around you. For instance, there’s no need to think “I’m in control, now, so I will text and drive my ’93 Mercury Sable 30 miles an hour under the speed limit!” You still have to be considerate of others, but you can take control of a situation and strike that balance. I mean politely talk to Marion and explain that your name is Catherine. I mean declutter your home or office. I mean tell that person who’s asking a favor of you even though you’re shoulder-deep in work that you can’t do that favor for them now.

There’s a delicate balance between being a polite, courteous, considerate member of society and looking out for yourself. It’s perfectly acceptable to do what you can to keep your own anxiety or stress level down in a way that isn’t rude. And that’s what it means to take control. If you can exercise some control over your situation, do it. It doesn’t have to be monumental. If you order a Dr Pepper and they send you a Sprite, tell the waiter (but nicely, because there’s no reason to be rude). That’s an example of taking control.

And there’s no reason to limit yourself to today. Take control every day. Take a little bit more control over your life every day until you feel like you can accept the things that are out of your control but have confidence in the things you can. But you have to start some time, and there’s no time like the present.

Happy Tuesday and have a great rest of your week, everyone.

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